On a cold day in February, I started class the way I always seem to do these days: with a themed book talk. I included a variety of genres and forms in this collection of books that centers around the big idea of poverty: YA, nonfiction, written in verse, novel, and memoir to name a few.
Included in this collection was Banker to the Poor, a memoir about the birth of microcredit and microlending.
Below an excerpt from the official Banker to the Poor website which I think helps explain what a microloan is and how the idea came to be:
One of my grade eleven girls quickly keyed in on this particular title, which came as no surprise. She has been a nonfiction-junkie this year, and the topic is right up her alley.
Time passed, we periodically conferred about her book, and then something happened.
Last week she insisted that she confer with me first, before any other students. She announced to me, “Mrs. Swinehart! I have big news that I think you’ll want to know about!”
She was right.
She went on to explain that she had received some money as a gift for her recent birthday. Her big news was that because she was inspired by the book she was reading, she would use some of her birthday money to help fund a microloan.
What an empowering connection between the real world and the text she was reading.
Talk about proud teacher moment.
What if she hadn’t had the freedom of choice in her reading life? If she had been in a class that required her to read a shared text – perhaps a classic like The Scarlet Letter, which I’ve taught several times and has always been one of my favorites – but in a class that didn’t offer her choice? Or if the whole class had been required to read her choice of text? The magic would have been gone. Continue reading “Students are changing the world because they read.”